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Feb 09, 2019 11:43:23

Where do our websites go?

by @danielmiller PATRON | 339 words | 4🔥 | 268💌

Daniel Miller

Current day streak: 4🔥
Total posts: 268💌
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My friend-on-the-internet Jordon Cooper died last year.

Today a new article from his website appeared in my RSS reader. I assumed perhaps his wife Wendy was writing on his site, much like Ezra's wife Hillary does every year. It was not that. Jordon's domain registration must have expired, and a different Jordon Cooper picked it up. He's also a Canadian, but the similarities end there.

It was jarring, to say the least. This wasn't just any site--Jordon's contained well over a decade's worth of writing. I assume all that writing is now stuck in a MySQL database somewhere. Maybe the actual server or VM is gone too.

It's made me think about how one should prepare the world to handle all these digital assets after we're gone. My domain and my hosting are set to auto-renew, but only for as long as the credit cards work. This blog is stored as flat files on Github, but does anyone who might care in the future know that? When, if ever, does Github remove accounts of deceased persons?

Even if I stored all this on an external hard drive, which I don't, who would care about it enough to plug it into a computer? How much longer would the hard drive last, and how much longer would adapters to connect it to a computer exist?

"The cloud" is as ephemeral as spoken words. Dropbox and Google and my web host store some things, but they'll go away as soon as my money is no good. Besides, they're all locked behind passwords even I don't know (they're stored in my 1Password vault, the master password for which only I know).

Will the blockchain save us? Will services?

It's a hard problem.

In one recent case, a widow contacted the company for access to her late husband's backups, but the data was inaccessible because it had been encrypted.
"It was heartbreaking and sad, and I wish we could've done something," Mr. Thomas said. "But the stuff was encrypted."

(from The New York Times)

Originally published at www.danielsjourney.com

From Daniel Miller's collection:

  • 1

    @danielmiller Pretty soon our "internet real estate" will need to be included in wills. Maybe a password vault for loved ones or instructions on account removals, stuff like that.
    Yeah, it's going to keep happening, and tech entrepreneurs will figure out ways to make 'deceased profiles' profitable (maybe).
    Facebook already has the 'memorialize/remove account' option.

    Gabriel Greco avatar Gabriel Greco | Feb 11, 2019 17:59:40
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    @danielmiller

    Wow very heart touching post. I've been thinking about this as well. I first thought of it while looking up a javascript tutorial on a web developer who had died recently. In his case, his website had reflected the fact that he had passed earlier, and the website was being maintained by his family. It was heart touching.

    The internet is no longer just a 'is this a fad or is it here to stay? ' phenomenon. It is no longer a place for just mere hobbyists. The entire world goes on it and lives on it daily. And thus ppl will die. And things like death and what happens after must be more pondered.

    Abe avatar Abe | Feb 09, 2019 23:32:49
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    @danielmiller this is very interesting and something I've never thought about before.

    A lot of our digital "artefacts" could be very meaningful to our loved ones, maybe more so than our physical possessions.

    We are doubtless all in need of a digital contingency plan.

     avatar | Feb 09, 2019 18:04:30
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